Green

Global LED market surges, doubling last year

The global high-brightness LED market doubled last year, jumping from $5.6 billion in 2009 to $10.8 billion in 2010.

That marks a 93 percent growth rate, according to Strategies Unlimited, an LED market research firm. LEDs are championed within cleantech as energy-efficient, longer-lasting lights. But their costs are still not completely cost-competitive, a factor in the heated debate over whether the U.S. should stick with a 2007 mandate that will effectively phase out the incandescent light bulb by 2014.

LEDs used in LCD monitors and TV backlights led the growth in the past year, followed by mobile display applications. Making LEDs affordable for retail and city installations, however, is the next frontier as manufacturers continue to try to cut costs and increase efficiency. IPO candidate Lighting Sciences Group has done several retail installations, and Tyco Electronics recently offered a set of LED components using Bridgelux parts designed for use in public spaces and retail establishments.

Some automakers like Audi have offered LED headlights (pictured), and one engineer claims that LED headlights will actually extend the driving range of electric cars by about six miles.

Still, this study shows how difficult it may be for smaller LED makers to break into the global market. Ten companies account for three-quarters of the high-brightness LED market. They are, in order: Nichia, Samsung LED, Osram Opto Semiconductors, Philips Lumileds Lighting, Seoul Semiconductor, LG Innotek, Cree, Sharp, TG and Everlight.

Still, smaller U.S. players like Bridgelux have cut costs and improved efficiency lately. And the sector still seems to be attracting investment. Last year, Taiwan’s SemiLEDs went public in the U.S., and another LED company that has done high-profile retail installations, Lighting Science Group, filed for a $150 million IPO this year. Bridgelux recently raised $21 million. And Intematix says its new ChromaLit line can simplify manufacturing for LEDs¬†and stabilize performance over a lifetime. The company is also considering a public offering.

[Image via Wikipedia Commons]